UPDATE 1-Devon Energy posts big loss on $1.1 bln charge

Wed Nov 7, 2012 9:05am EST

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Devon Energy Corp reported a third-quarter loss and wrote down the value of some assets, like many other natural gas-focused companies, as gas prices remained weak.

Devon, a producer of natural gas liquids (NGLs) such as propane and ethane, took a $1.1 billion non-cash asset impairment charge as the carrying value of its oil and gas properties fell.

U.S. oil and gas companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp and Anadarko Petroleum Corp have written off the value of their assets over the past few months, as natural gas prices hit a decade-low earlier this year.

Low natural gas prices sent many exploration and production companies in search of NGLs such as butane, propane and ethane, but excess supplies of these liquids have put pressure on their prices.

Prices for pentanes and butane have held up because of demand from the booming oil industry, but ethane prices have fallen more than 60 percent this year.

"As we have pursued higher-returning oil projects, we also have de-emphasized natural gas drilling, limiting overall production growth," Devon Chief Executive John Richels said in a statement.

Devon reported a loss of $719 million, or $1.80 per share, compared with a profit of $1 billion, or $2.51 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 88 cents per share.

Revenue fell 47 percent to $1.87 billion as average realized prices for natural gas fell 27 percent, and that for natural gas liquids fell 37 percent.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 69 cents per share on revenue of $2.27 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of Devon, valued at $24.12 billion, closed at $59.62 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

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